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At least 89% of vaccinated U.S. adults will qualify for Covid-19 boosters

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At least 89% of vaccinated U.S. adults will qualify for Covid-19 boosters

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After months of debate over who should be eligible for a booster, analysis done for CNN shows that at least 89% of vaccinated U.S. adults are eligible once enough time has passed since their initial injections.

This might come as a surprise to many Americans who think you must be old or seriously ill to be eligible for a recall.

It even surprised some government vaccine advisers.

“It’s even more than I expected,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a member of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “I would have thought it was something like half the population.”

Data analysis was performed by the Computational Epidemiology Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, affiliated with Harvard Medical School. The group also powers Vaccines.gov.

Adults who have received Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna are eligible for boosters once they are six months after their second injection, provided they are 65 years of age or older or are at risk. high of severe Covid-19.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established guidelines for determining who is considered at high risk for Covid-19. They include people in certain jobs, such as teachers and healthcare workers, as well as anyone who is overweight, has depression, or a long list of other medical conditions.
Nearly 75% of people 20 and older are overweight, according to the CDC. When people in high-risk jobs or other medical conditions are added, epidemiologists estimate that at least 89% of vaccinated adults who have sufficiently exceeded their initial vaccinations are eligible for boosters.

‘Boosterpalooza’

For Schaffner, this high percentage was surprising, but not necessarily bad.

In several meetings of government vaccine advisers over the past six weeks, discussion has focused on people at high risk for severe Covid-19 without listing all of the medical conditions that fall into that category.

He says he and his fellow advisers weren’t thinking of conditions like overweight or depression that affect such a large proportion of Americans.

At least 89% of vaccinated U.S. adults will qualify for Covid-19 boosters

 |  Latest News Headlines

“People were focusing on the classic underlying conditions, like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes – I think that was mainly the mindset of my colleagues,” said Schaffner, disease specialist. infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Being overweight has been on the CDC’s high-risk list since March, and mental health issues were added in mid-October, according to Kristen Nordlund, a spokesperson for the agency.

Schaffner said he felt like there had been a “creep booster,” but that didn’t necessarily bother him.

“One of my vaccine adages is better to over-immunize than to under-immunize even a few,” he said.

But Dr Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Group, called the current situation a “boosterpalooza” and “third-dose fever,” noting that doses given as boosters in the United States could be sent. abroad in places where vaccines are lacking.

“I accepted that the over 65s get boosters and then that just opened the door,” he said. “We created this monster.”

On August 18, more than a month before the FDA cleared the first recall, President Joe Biden announced a plan for “every adult” to receive a recall starting the week of September 20.

“The administration got what it wanted,” Offit said. “To be perfectly honest, I think it got pushed down our throats.”

Spokesmen for the White House and the US Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a CNN request to respond to Offit’s remarks.

Data analysis

To perform the analysis, the Boston Children’s Hospital epidemiology team reviewed the CDC’s eligibility guidelines for the Pfizer and Moderna recalls. Adults who have received both of these vaccines are eligible for a booster once they are at least six months after their second injection and are 65 years of age or older, or have certain medical conditions, or live or work in low-risk environments. high risk.
At least 89% of vaccinated U.S. adults will qualify for Covid-19 boosters

 |  Latest News Headlines

The team then looked at the number of people in high-risk jobs and the prevalence in the United States of several of these medical conditions, such as overweight or obesity, smoking, asthma, and blood disorders. mood such as depression. They statistically explained the fact that some people belong to more than one of these categories.

Epidemiologists also included in the analysis the relatively small group of Americans who received Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine – 15 million people compared to 175 million for Pfizer and Moderna. All people who have received the J&J vaccine are eligible as long as they are at least two months after their initial injection.

Taking all this into account, epidemiologists have estimated that at least 89% of those who miss the deadlines are eligible for a booster. They say it’s probably even more than that, as older people, workers in high-risk jobs, and those with underlying illnesses are more likely to be vaccinated than other Americans.

Confusion over boosters

Many Americans aren’t sure if they’re eligible for a booster shot, according to a survey by the Boston Children’s Hospital and Momentive group.

In a survey of 13,443 vaccinated U.S. adults conducted Oct. 4-10, more than one in four said they were not sure they were qualified for a booster. Rates were higher for minority groups: 31% of blacks, 33% of Hispanics, and 35% of Asians said they were unsure of their eligibility.

In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted October 14-24, 4 in 10 vaccinated adults said they were not sure they were eligible for a booster.
At least 89% of vaccinated U.S. adults will qualify for Covid-19 boosters

 |  Latest News Headlines

“There is a lot of confusion about who qualifies,” said Benjamin Rader, a graduate researcher on the Boston Children’s Hospital team. “I think there has been a lot of bombardment of information on people and it’s hard to keep up with information coming from multiple sources at different times.”

In describing who is eligible for a recall, the CDC has made a distinction between who should get one and who can get one.

Anyone who has received Johnson & Johnson should be given a booster if they are two months or more after their initial injection, according to the agency.

For Pfizer and Moderna beneficiaries, those aged 65 and over, those 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions, and those 18 and older living in long-term care facilities should be reminded ‘they have six months or more after their second injection. .

At least 89% of vaccinated U.S. adults will qualify for Covid-19 boosters

 |  Latest News Headlines

For other eligible people, this is “based on their individual risks and benefits,” according to the CDC: Pfizer and Moderna beneficiaries who are six months or more after their second injection may receive a booster injection if they are between 18 and 18 years old. and 49 years old and have an underlying medical condition.

“The difference between should and can is a pretty important distinction,” said Dr. Grace Lee, a member of the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee and pediatrician at Stanford University School of Medicine. “When you are in the ‘may’ category, you need to look at what applies to your individual situation.”

She said there were details and nuances in the CDC guidelines.

“This is the most complex set of recommendations we have had to give,” said Lee. “I can see 100% why this is confusing to the general public.”

Do booster rules still matter?

There’s a bigger question about the CDC’s guidelines on boosters: are they even important?

To get a recall at CVS or Walgreens, people can simply say they’re eligible – they don’t have to provide documentation that says they have an underlying illness or work at a certain job, depending on the job. corporate spokespersons.

Government vaccine advisers know people might not follow the rules.

“Educated, wealthy, and able people are going to find a reason, they go to a supplier, probably a pharmacy,” who ignores the rules, Dr Sarah Long, a pediatrician at Drexel University College of Medicine said in a meeting. September 23 from the CDC’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. “They will get their dose without really significant need.”

“People are just going to go get the shots for no reason, and for lack of a better term, misrepresent their underlying conditions, just to get a booster,” Dr Jason Goldman, another committee member, said during the same meeting.

CNN’s Justin Lape, Naomi Thomas, John Bonifield, Virginia Langmaid and Nadia Kounang contributed to this report.

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